How to Decide Whether to Stay in a Relationship: A Step-by-Step Guide

Healthy relationships thrive on equality, kindness, compassion, and support. In contrast, unhealthy relationships tend to foster negative emotions, including criticism, selfishness, resentment, difficulties in reaching compromises, or imbalances in power and control.

Almost all relationships encounter conflicts or difficulties at times. However, if these problems persist, and you frequently feel worse after addressing them, it’s valuable to take a moment to reflect. Consider whether the relationship is in a healthy state, where issues can be resolved, or if it might be a sign that it’s time to consider other options.

When to Stay in a Relationship

1. Feeling Happy Together

You are content and happy when both you and your partner find emotional, social, and physical satisfaction in the relationship, and you have trust that you will be cared for and heard.

2. Getting Along with Loved Ones

Your relationship blends well with the rest of your life. Suppose your friends and family embrace your partner, and you feel welcomed by their loved ones. In that case, you take pride in introducing them, feel comfortable together in social settings, and are not embarrassed or hurt by their behavior.

3. Talking Honestly

You have open communication when facing conflict, delivering bad news, or experiencing significant life changes. Your partner is there for you, actively seeking solutions and moving forward together.

4. Feeling Safe and Secure

You both feel secure if you and your partner respect each other’s need for personal space, acknowledge each other’s past and present relationships, and handle feelings of insecurity or jealousy in healthy, mature ways. You can manage negative emotions with kindness and maturity.

5. Having Similar Beliefs and Goals

You share common ground when you hold similar core beliefs, have aligned future goals, and agree on what you want from the relationship.

6. Looking Forward to Tomorrow

You look forward to the future if you feel enthusiastic about your partner and the possibilities you both can explore together.

7. Making Positive Changes Together

You seek change and see progress during conflicts when you request compromises. Your partner willingly participates in making the changes you desire, responding with kindness and empathy rather than anger or defensiveness when approached about compromising.

When to leave a relationship

Your Needs Aren’t Being Met

When you’ve talked to your partner about what you need emotionally, socially, or physically, but they’re not meeting those needs.

Seeking Support Elsewhere

If you’re looking for validation, support, or closeness from others like friends and family because your partner isn’t providing these for you.

Feeling Unable to Ask for More

When you’re unhappy in the relationship, your needs have been repeatedly overlooked, and you don’t believe you can ask for more because you doubt your partner will take your requests seriously.

Persistent Jealousy Without Resolution

If you or your partner are frequently experiencing jealousy, even without a clear reason, and there are no efforts to rebuild trust.

Irreconcilable Differences in Values and Goals

When you have fundamental differences in your core beliefs, values, and future aspirations, and neither party is willing to compromise.

Lack of Support from Loved Ones

If you trust that your friends and family have your best interests at heart, but you constantly find yourself defending your relationship with them if discussing relationship issues with friends and family causes conflict.

Feeling Stuck or Obligated

When you’re unhappy but feel compelled to continue because you’ve invested significant time and energy into the relationship. Feeling guilty about leaving due to external pressure to keep investing.

Struggling to Improve the Relationship

If you’ve been unhappy for an extended period and have made promises to enhance the relationship, but there’s been no follow-through, if you’ve been trying to make things better for months or years without success.

Resentment Toward Your Partner

When issues in the relationship make it challenging to see your partner in a positive light, causing feelings of neglect, resentment, or grudges.

Lack of Feeling Loved

If you and your partner have different ways of showing and receiving affection, or if your partner doesn’t demonstrate affection in the way you desire. If you simply don’t feel loved or struggle to make your partner feel loved.


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